Thursday, January 7, 2016

A New Look: Publicity Photos

It's a brand new year!

Time to re-set my life!

Time to rethink my choices!

Time to redo my publicity!

Time to submit new material for publication!

Time to figure out if I'm changing careers!

Time to decide if I'm going to do festivals or not!

Time to....well, you get the idea.

For the first time in ten years, I have gotten some new publicity photos taken. I like my old ones, and my face hasn't changed too much, but my hair has gotten grayer and longer.

I've blogged about publicity pics before, and I will no doubt do it again. This year, as I begin to re-craft my public image, I'm going to be talking about some of the process on the blog.

I asked a friend of mine who is an amateur photographer to take some new pictures for me.

Now when I say 'amateur', I do not mean he got a camera for Christmas and thought, 'who do I know I could convince to pose for some pictures?'

He's been at this for some time. He just doesn't get paid. He has one of them real jobs.

He's also seen my work for years. He knows what I look like in performance, what a storyteller does, and he had ideas for the kinds of shots he thought would work.

We spent over an hour and a half taking pictures. I liked lots of them.

Then, I posted them on my Facebook page to get feedback from everyone and their sister.

For some things this is a bad idea, but for photos that are essentially taken so that the public can interact with them, this is perfect.

My Facebook friends include people I've never met, my family and friends, people who know me really well, people who've known of me for many years, people who only know me in print, a handful of people who were fans of my work who snuck onto the personal Facebook page before I opened my professional page, storytellers who've seen my work, storytellers who have never seen my work, and a number of artists who do a hoard of other things that do not include live, oral performance.

What I was seeking:

How do people react to these pictures?

Do people find me either approachable, or scary?

Do people find some of these pictures odd?

Do people like the photos? If so, why or why not?

Does this look creepy?

Does this make someone uncomfortable?

Do I look like a character of some kind?

So, I put them out there and sat back to see what I could see.

When you mine for information on Facebook you get three kinds of reactions.

1. Neutral

2. Interesting

3. Critical

The neutral response is to hit the 'like' button.

The interesting responses range from people commenting on my level or lack thereof of attractiveness, what I am wearing,  the choice of hairstyle, describing my facial expressions or gesture, or saying something that has so many different meanings it is impossible to tell what they mean.

The critical responses go into detail about why they like, don't like, are attracted to or are not attracted to a particular image.

All of this information is useful on some level. As I decide which images to use and which to put in my storage of 'images I don't use for whatever reason' it is good to know how people react when they first see them. What is my plan for these pics? Easy.

These are images I will no doubt be using for the next decade barring some huge change in my face before that.

I want to use these pictures with captions for my own Facebook page, Pinterest account and twitter feed.

I need a variety of different looks to cover a variety of different hats that I either already wear, or need to appear to wear.

Respected Educator

Children's Picture Book Author

Animated Storyteller

Public Speaker



Pictures that allow me to make posters, come up with a variety of different captions, show different sides of my personality, and make me look fun, serious, scary, inviting, and just plain interesting are a must. That's what I'm after. Yes, there is a mole on the side of my nose. If someone judges me for that and decides they can't spend an evening with me, well, that will just have to be as it is!

The shoot was fun.

Still, I didn't get everything I needed. As you will notice, I am wearing the same outfit in all of these pictures. This is because of all the shots we took, the ones in this outfit were the best.

That's great except for the fact that these photos all get a serious cast to them because of the pattern and the color.

I need some photos that are fun that don't have me dressed like I want to invite small children into my home and have them for supper.

Actually, the photo below is supposed to suggest that, but I didn't mean for all of them to look so dark!

Then there is my Serious Writer pose.

I also did a few with books. I plan to use these photos for posters which I will give away to volunteers who accept the random challenges I pose at schools. These will go to teachers who decide to join me on stage for various storyteller necessities. 

I have a variety of photos to choose from, and the ones I like will eventually replace the photo page that is currently available on my website where most people get the photos they use for the various publicity choices they make when I am on my way to their organization.

I'll have to go back into session with my friend and get some photos with me in a colorful outfit or two, but I think these photos are a great start to my new year!

What do I like most about these photos? Well, that's an easy one.

When I was a kid, my great grandmother had beautiful, silvery hair. She wore it in a coil, like a silver crown on her head. 

When I was six, I asked:

"Grandma Topsy?"

"Yes, baby?"

"Why is your hair silver?"

"I got wisdom locks, honey."

"Wisdom locks?"


"Will I ever have wisdom locks?"

"Oh, yes, child, you will, but you got to wait for 'em. Someday, when you have lots of wisdom, your wisdom locks will come in nice and strong."

"Will they be as silvery as yours?" I was admiring the way the light caught them.

"Oh, I expect so."

My great grandmother was right. In my new photos, my wisdom locks are catching the light just like hers used to do. I've got a long way to go before I have as much silver as she did, but I am on my way!

Happy New Year!


  1. I honestly like them. I agree about having some with more color because the ones with the books pop. Your expressions are wonderful.

    1. Thank you! The more feedback I can get before I go live with these the better! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  2. I love this blog, Donna! I love the questions you pose at the beginning (sounds just like my brain!) and I love your musings on the photos. So true that we need different photos for dif. roles we play. I also have been needing new photos for years and I'm on the verge of doing it - soon! So it's been interesting and inspiring to see what you have done.

    I am one of those who has never met you or seen you perform but I hope to do both some day!

    1. I'm glad this was helpful. Everyone has a public persona. The difference between artists and the rest of the world is that we have to advertise ours!